Magdalena Wiecek was one of the most radical as well as modern artists during communist rule in Poland. Amazed by aluminum- as state-of-the-art, began working on her abstract metal sculptures and works on paper.

The intersecting arches of Sacrum I bring to mind both the vaulting of a Gothic cathedral and modern architecture such as the famous sports arena in Raleigh, North Carolina built at the beginning of the 1950s from a design by Maciej Nowicki. Więcek’s uneven arches, like the suspended roof of the ‘Paraboleum’, seem to defy the force of gravity. The Sacrum series, deemed by critics to be a peak achievement in the field of sculpture, bore the working title Cathedrals. In the artist’s own words, behind this confessional title lay not only the geometric form of the Gothic arch, but also religious experiences she went through during a long reconvalescence after a car accident she was involved in on Christmas Eve 1970.

Tunnels, 1976
modern cast, aluminium; 32.5 x 42 x 50 cm

In October 1976, Magdalena Więcek, Jan Berdyszak, Krystian and Anna Jarnuszkiewicz and Maciej Szańkowski took part in an outdoor sculpture exhibition in Konin, where they used products of the aluminium foundry there. It is likely that it was from Konin that this fragment of thick aluminium sheeting derives; rolled up in a graceful, almost offhand manner, it forms a simple, surprisingly timeless sculpture. Mounted precariously on a wooden pedestal of the artist’s making, with a single gesture it speaks of humanity’s perpetual dream of flight. It is both serious and frivolous, raising associations with the somersaults of both acrobats and aviators. It embodies both the lightness of a drawing and the weight of an edifice.

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Cover image: Untitled, 1976, aluminium, 62 cm × 65 cm × 14 cm